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Bresmed Northern Sprint - Sheffield 280m - £8,000

COTTON PANTS (pictured above at Romford) landed a surprise but deserved victory in the richest sprint competition in the GBGB Calendar when leading off the second bend to grab the £8,000 first prize in the BresMed Northern Sprint at Sheffield on Tuesday.


Owned by Tony Head and Tom O’Donnell, the Mark Wallis-trained racer took full advantage of favourite Affane Party finding trouble at the bend after a slow start, and saw eventual runner-up Blakes Flyer get first run inside to lead the charge.


Jim Hayton’s dog, the oldest runner in the 280m decider, had shown his younger rivals a clean pair of heels from traps-rise and it was only the stronger Cotton Pants who managed to get to him, the winner swooping on the run-in to land a half-a-length win in 15.98sec (normal).


“I can’t say we expected that, but it’s a pleasant surprise,” said winning trainer Wallis afterwards. “He’s a cracking dog - you only have to look at this Romford times over 400m - and it’s that strength which helped him get to Jim’s dog.


“We were beaten fair and square by Affane Party in the semis, but I thought the draw gave him a squeak if he trapped well and got himself in a decent enough position. Then, if something happened inside, he’d be there with a chance - and so it proved.


“We’re now looking forward to the Trainers’ Championship [Saturday] now, so I suppose it’s odd I haven’t got a Category One winner in the sprint at Towcester!” he joked, “but we were really concentrating on this for Cotton Pants and Kilcree Diamond is a nice sort himself, so hopefully we’ll be okay.


“I’d just like to say thanks to Nic Brereton, whose BredMed company sponsor the night. It’s been another great event, and fantastic to be part of it. It’s tremendous what he’s doing in the sport, and it’s down to the great sponsors in the game, like Nic, who are helping owners and trainers so much.


“I need to thank the staff - especially Sid (Huett) who was with the dog tonight - and to Tony and Tom [Cotton Pants’ owners], who’ve had to be patient. He’s not had a lot of racing with one or two injury issues which we addressed, and it’s now come good.”


Tom O’Donnell, a part-owner of last year’s Derby finalist Droopys Acrobat, praised champion trainer Wallis and his team for their work with the July 2014 son of Lenson Bolt and Fairly Cloudy, and was delighted with the success in one of the major races of the year.


“It’s great and means a lot,” he said. “This dog has always had speed - look at the times he’s gone well under 24 seconds at Romford - but he’s had time off, and Mark brought him back for this and it’s a great training performance. Trap five gave him a chance to be there if things opened up - and they did!”


Nic Brereton of Geelo Racing, sponsor on the night through his BresMed company, congratulated the winner and praised Sheffield for hosting what has become a ‘festival’ at the Owlerton venue with a strong supporting card to the BresMed Northern Sprint.


“The win was well deserved, and well done to Mark and his team, and to Tom and Tony. It’s been a great event, well supported by trainers, and it’s just great that owners and trainers are now buying greyhounds with the BresMed Northern Sprint in mind.


“That’s always been our intention, and it’s been a great day for the company here at Sheffield. We use the stadium during the day for a ‘team’ session for staff from our offices in Europe, and that includes a night’s racing. It’s introduced new people to the sport - potential owners maybe!”